Wilderness Trail Distillery - Owners Dr. Pat Heist and Shane Baker 2020 Ernst & Young Entreprenuer of the Year Finalist

The duo started out in a rock ‘n’ roll band. In 2006 together they created Ferm Solutions, a research and product development company that provides technical services to the ethanol and distilled spirits industries. Six years later in 2012 they started Wilderness Trail Distillery, a craft spirits distillery, in the heart of Danville, Kentucky. Eight years and three expansions later the distillery that co-owners Shane Baker and Dr. Patrick Heist created has grown from a modest craft spirits distillery to one of the top 15 bourbon producing distilleries in the world. Their story of growth and success is the true American entrepreneurial dream.

Their efforts have been recognized as they were recently named a Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneurs of the Year® 2020 East Central Award finalist. Now in its 34th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year program honors entrepreneurial business leaders whose ambitions deliver innovation, growth and prosperity as they build and sustain successful businesses that transform our world. Baker and Heist were selected as one of 26 finalists from nearly 100 nominations by a panel of independent judges.

Wilderness Trail Distillery - Shane Baker Delivering Hand Sanitizer
Shane Baker of Wilderness Trail Distillery delivering hand sanitizer.

Award winners will be announced through a special virtual event on Oct.7, and will join a lifelong community of esteemed Entrepreneur of The Year alumni from around the world. This year, unstoppable entrepreneurs who have provided extraordinary support for their communities, employees and others during the COVID-19 crisis also will be recognized for their courage, resilience and ingenuity.

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Entrepreneur of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive award programs for entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies. The nominees are evaluated based on six criteria, including overcoming adversity; financial performance; societal impact and commitment to building a values-based company; innovation; and talent management. Since its launch, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries around the world.

“We are very honored to share this prestigious award nomination with so many great entrepreneurs and businesses that have been built from the unwavering entrepreneurial spirit. To be recognized as a finalist in the extremely competitive Ernst and Young competition is without a doubt another major milestone our team has accomplished,” says Baker.

Wilderness Trail Distillery - Co-Founder Dr. Pat Heist TEDx Talk

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Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur of the Year National Awards, to be announced in November during a virtual awards gala. The Entrepreneur of the Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year™ Award in June 2021.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award winners become lifetime members of a global, multi-industry community of entrepreneurs, with exclusive, ongoing access to the experience, insight and wisdom of program alumni and other ecosystem members in over 60 countries — all supported by vast Ernst & Young resources.

We’ll keep you posted with the results.

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